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Does anybody else dread taking assembly?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by bedingfield, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    Just wondered how others felt about taking assemblies? I am still at the start of my career and now that I am no longer the NQT in my school I have been put on the rota of taking 2 KS2 assemblies twice a month.
    My problem is that no matter how much I plan and make notes of what to say, I still get totally tongue-tied and leave the hall feeling that the whole thing has been a total disaster. I am not bothered about what the children think, but feel very self-conscious about standing up in front of the staff. It doesn't help that the DHT was there last time and afterwards they commented on how they can tell that I don't like taking assemblies. It's not that I don't like taking them but I wish it was just me and the kids and not all the other staff!
    I know how ridiculous this all sounds, but I am due to take the assembly for the whole of KS2 tomorrow morning. I know what I am going to say and do, but I have this awful feeling again of just how bad it is going to be.
    Does anyone have any tips on how I can overcome this?

  2. No tips, just empathy! I can speak to a room of 100s of kids, but put 1 adult in and I go to pieces. I'm the same in lessons; I hate having a TA with me..... never really had one much before so I'm just not used to it!!
  3. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    Thanks for the reply. It's nice to know that it's not just me who feels so self-conscious in front of adults in the school.
    Have just had a shower and am settling down with a nice glass of wine. I'm hoping that if I relax and get a good night's sleep I might feel better about it in the morning.
  4. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    Simple...turn to the staff after they have brought the kids into the hall and sweetly say "You don't need to stay" Most would probably be v keen to have that little extra prep time and will disappear like smoke!
  5. paulie86

    paulie86 New commenter

    Me too! If you are feeling really like coping out show the "Shift Happens" google it! its a really good video and learing curve for the kids. (I showed it to upper KS2 and they "got it") Often all of SLT are in for our KS2 assesmblies! (although as we have 8 KS3 form teachers and a year group co-ordinator, we only do roughly one a term)
  6. ronnieg

    ronnieg New commenter

    I used to hate them but previous head gave me good advice. I started reading from books but it was awful. I was talking into the books and not to the kids. I found a book of short stories and basically learned them parrot fashion with a little twist here and then. If you can tell them little things about yourself without being too revealing of course. Stories of your childhood, sibling rivalries were always good un's - arguments with sisters and brothers that lead to a moral.

    Another good one was the story of the little boy who tried charging his mum for little jobs around the house until she showed him all the jobs she did for free - washing free. Got children to think of what their parent's did.

    In another I started talking about something else and one of the kids put up their hands to say they'd found a wallet ( I sneaked it to them beofre lesson had started). I took it and went through - ooh money, bank cards - what can we do with this? Spend it was the answer! It did lead into a story about doing the right thing and how we should have handed it in.
    Sorry to ramble but hope this is helpful
  7. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    Thanks Craig for the ideas. I'll keep these in mind.
    Waterfin: I have actually tried to suggest to the staff that they leave and make use of the time, but one particular member of staff voiced how it's best if they stay and I was too flustered to argue.
    My mind just seems to sieze up and normally, with a class, I am one of the best at thinking on my feet!
  8. I think you get used to taking assemblies, although if they are class assemblies it can involve preparation time. The larger the school, the fewer assemblies per person. I used to have 4 assemblies per term, 2 class and 2 just teacher. For the just teacher I found a book of assemblies which was not used by others.
    The other year I did a day's supply in a school, and we were waiting in assembly for the head, who had been delayed. The staff were getting up to take the children back to class, so I offered to get my assembly book of stories which I carry with me, I took the assembly. I guess when you get into it taking assembly is no problem.
  9. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Is behaviour a concern in assemblies? If not, do other staff need to be there? I know I value the 15 odd minutes' prep time when it's not my assembly.
    Luckily we don't insist on staff being present for assemblies at my school, meaning my assemblies mainly consist of me prattling on for 10 minutes about a relevant current affair, asking them to reflect on how lucky they are not to live in X or have to deal with Y and then getting them to belt out a song or two before sending them back to class and taking reassurance in the fact that I've not got to think about such a thing for another fortnight.
  10. I think it really is something you will get used to. I don't particularly enjoy the thought of doing them but now do at least one a week.
    I too find it more difficult when other teachers a represent. My HT has taken to coming into choir practise when he hears a song he likes just to have a listen. I know he is not checking up on me or anything but it is still a bit unnerving!
    I think that you should try to ignore the teachers and talk to the children. Try to involve them with questions or show pictures if you have the tech available. View the adults as people who are looking after the pupils rather than listening to you.
    I hope it went well.
  11. I think most teachers in an assembly are too busy thinking "there but for the grace of god ....etc" than to be sitting in judgement on the person taking it. I do feel that if you 'put on a show' and 'perform', rather than being true to yourself the pupils can see through you and see you as being false and a fraud.
    My advice would be to do an assembly on facing fears in life/school/work etc - the fear of public speaking in this case - let the children (of any age) know that it is the number one fear in adults (above death, illness and divorce etc) and let them know how powerful and empowering it can be to face your fears. As you are demonstrating to them - you could turn the tables on them, or perhaps the other teachers - bring them into it with you...
    It's just an idea....hope it helps.
  12. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    I love taking them. Ok, maybe not love but I really don't mind them.
    I usually get a general idea of what i'm going to talk about and just wing it. I am lucky that I don't get shy in front of crowds and I just take it as an opportunity to have a bit of fun.

    I find the children love it if they get to come up to the front to act out a story (with a good moral of course). It doesn't even matter if the story is one they already know, they just like to act.
    I am also lucky that other teachers are never in when I do an assembly. That probably would be a bit annoying. As somebody said just tell them they aren't needed and they will probably jump at the chance to leave.
  13. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    On the odd occasions we are asked to sit on on assemblies, I can assure you that I barely listen to a word of them and tend to spend the fifteen minutes either gazing listlessly into space whilst reminding myself what I've planned to teach that day, or glaring menacingly at any young imp who dares fidget or natter to their neighbour.
    I'd imagine this is true of most teachers.
  14. comenius

    comenius New commenter

    We are a small church school and all staff are expected to attend worship.
    I take two key stage 1 assemblies a week and do enjoy doing it, especially the celebration assembly. We are a small team and know each other very well so I feel comfortable. I sit on a chair at the front in a small area.
    However if I was ever asked to lead a whole school assembly I don't think I could. Having to stand at the front of the school hall with everyone looking, no chance!!!
  15. No, you're definitely not alone (sorry can't remember who you are OP!)!
    I think most people feel self conscious and only get used to it because of having to do them. I volunteered to take singing practise every week - rather than once a half term ks2 assembly! It meams I only have to introduce, and finish up.
    I wonder if it would be worth raising at a staff meeting, I'm sure people would rather have the extra time in their classroom (I'm also sure that other staff feel uncomfortable). You could suggest it. Or that there's just one other person in to help with behaviour if that's the reason for staff being in (then you could team up with a friend?).
    The more you do it the easier it gets, so if you don't get anywhere at least the only way is up!![​IMG]
  16. The best assemblies I've ever seen were at a school I did teaching practice is, The headteacher there had a magic formula which basically involved lots of children volunteering for whatever it was. Magic! Lots of laughter and not a great long screed from her. Also a song at the end and sometimes at the beginning takes time up ... The children loved to volunteer!
    Another option I've seen that works well is a double act - could you get together with another teacher and 'share' acting out a story or something?
  17. dc521

    dc521 New commenter

    I'm one of those people who likes assemblies (OK, I like the sound of my own voice ;) ) so I like doing them. Here's a few tips to help you 'get through' assembly. I'm assuming the OP is Primary based.
    First of all, how long do you actually have? If it's a 15 minute slot then you need to be on the ball. My tips for a short, sharp assembly are:
    Share a short story that has a moral. You do need one with pictures, to keep the masses entertained. Make sure you direct your voice to other parts of the room.
    As you have other adults in the room, involve them in some way. I lead an assembly on bullying and asked the adults to talk to the children around them about the points I'd made.
    Make sure you bring the assembly together with either a thought for the day or moral.
    If you have finished early (and I have more than once) ask if there are any messages from the staff. Then just gently prattle on to the children about good behaviour, expectations from the staff and how proud you are of their effort.
    If the assembly is longer, then get the children to 'run' most of it for you. I don't mean the God awful 'show and tell' assemblies, give them topics to talk about and share ideas with you. Yes, you have to control the whole school, but it can be a great (and easy) way to fill the time and keep the assembly focus.
    Another way to run an assembly is to use a Power Point and have 5-6 slides about the topic. This can help you pace the assembly, projecting images is always a fancy thing that people like to see and also it shows you have prepared for the assembly and if your voice gives out or nerves get the better of ... then there's something there to 'use'.
    I am a fan of this site for assemblies:


    Find one you like, print it out and then cut out any 'woffle' that you can't cope with. Remember, any assembly must have a focus to it.

    If you ever get stuck or worried about Assembly, message me on here and I'll see what other gems and ideas I can come up with.
  18. Doesn't always work like that - I end up having at least 2 adults in with me as one-to-one support for SEn pupils who may need removing for medical/behavioural reasons.
  19. bedingfield

    bedingfield New commenter

    First of all, thank you to all who have offered tips and advice.
    Thanks for this. If I ever feel stuck I'll keep you in mind. The need for ideas is not normally a problem, as our PSHE coordinator usually ties in the assembly with the current SEAL topic. It is just my need to overcome my dread of having so many adults watching. As someone said, maybe as time goes on, and I get more under my belt, it will get easier.
    Today was better than last time, but perhaps it was easier because the HT wanted us to practice some songs, so there was more of the children doing things and less of me. I had a chat with some of the teachers and they didn't stay in and just left their TA's to support the SEN children. That made it much better, as I only had a couple of class teachers left in the hall.
    I can now sigh with relief and don't have to think about it for another 4 weeks!
  20. I hate them but it does get "easier". ie I care less about what others think. Much prefer to do it alone but welcome one or two to stay and support the EBD kids.
    I find preparing well helps and I read my notes well before hand. I have done it at 5 minutes notice and was left for 45 minutes with 6 KS2 classes ( emergency staff meeting about major incident in school) I had no support and when I think of that any 10 - 15 minute assembly is a walk in a park.
    We have seperate singing practices so any assemblies are stand alone. I just get on with it. I get butterflies but once the kids are in and sitting and staff have left, they disappear with them !

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